I had hesitations going into Michael Moore's latest one-sided opus "Fahrenheit 11/9." After all, this is a documentary that was supposed to be mostly about the Donald Trump presidency and how his ascension led to his becoming the 45th president on November 9th, 2016. What I didn't expect was a scathing indictment of the whole establishment, Democratic and Republican, which makes the film feel more fully conceived and surprisingly unbiased. It's his best movie since 2004's Palme D'or winning George W. Bush indictment "Fahrenheit 9/11."
In fact, it takes close to 3/4 of the way through to finally have Moore shoot real nasty darts at Trump, comparing his rise to power to that of Adolf Hitler's in 1930s Germany -- not subtle at all, but the message does come across loud and clear. Moore's relentless assault and condemnation of such politicians as Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Paul Ryan, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, whose botched attempt to monetize water in Flint Michigan led to the lead poisoning of the draining system, killing 10 people.
This is Moore's wake-up call to a nation that feels more divided than ever, but needs to take off those partisan beer goggles and smell the roses. Moore's message is really simple: money has corrupted politicians and you should be wary about who you trust.
You know exactly where Moore's movie is going when he interviews Bernie Sanders early on and talks with the Vermont senator about the superdelegates that, as he puts it, "screwed" him over in his electoral fight against future Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. He also lays the blame on the media, which he says purposely skewed the way the country perceived Bernie, despite the dedicated support he had. The system is corrupt on both sides, claims Moore, with even the Democrats guilty of crimes and corruption.
The film is a big, messy, sprawling look at the state of America and, suffice to say, it's not a pretty picture. Moore tackles everything from the Parkland school shooting (David Hogg and other Parkland survivors are interviewed), to the rise of leftist socialists like the Bronx's own Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Moore interviews Cortez and other up and coming grassroots politicians like herself, trying to boost the movement he deems to be not only the future of the party, but the only way the Democrats will be able to beat Trump at his own game.
The surprising part about "Fahrenheit 11/9" is that Moore is shooting darts at everyone. He blames Obama for drone wars, the separation of children at the border, and his apparent record for having taken the most money, of any politician in history, from Goldman Sachs. In a scathing scene which had the crowd at Toronto's Ryerson theater murmuring, he shows Obama visiting Flint and pulling off what he claims was a 'stunt', as the former president asks for a glass of water in the middle of a speech and takes a sip. At closer glimpse, however, Moore reveals that Obama never actually drank the water and that his cozy friendship with Snyder was part of a publicity stunt to help Snyder with damage control.
Moore blames Bill Clinton's presidency for starting the Democratic party's eventual shift closer to right-wing politics and for initiating the crime bill which led to the incarceration of millions of African-Americans in the United States. Hilary is an obvious target as well, as are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Anyone thinking that this is the stuff that will make the film a Best Documentary nominee come next year are dreaming. Too many people will be riled up and infuriated by it, on both sides of the aisle.
Clocking in at exactly 120 minutes, Moore's film can be seen as a sharp satire about a post-9/11 America that still hasn't recovered from instilling such rights-violating laws as the "Patriot Act." As more years have passed since that tragedy, both Democratic and Republican parties have worked together to strip American citizens of their rights. You may agree or disagree with his assessment but it nevertheless is a surprising turn of events for a man who was supposed to deliver for the masses a documentary about mostly Trump.
Moore's optimism for a better future does show as well. His focus on youth taking over politics is the main message here, as he believes the future lies in the hands of young progressive socialists who aren't born and bred politicians, but rather stem from the working class. A socialist republic is the only way forward in Moore's vision of a Utopian world.
Of course, he tackles how Trump is a master distractor with the way he manipulates the media for his own political benefit, but also points the finger at the mainstream media themselves, who he sees as accomplices to Trump, and how they stand to benefit monetarily with him as President.
It's a side of the country that is rarely told by the mainstream and that's what makes "Fahrenheit 11/9" so fresh and revealing. You may not agree with everything Moore has to say, but he opens your mind up for eventual debate and asks what good can YOU do for the country instead of just standing there and moaning along to every tweet being typed by this eccentric and bombastic President. [B+]